Monday, the Long County Board of Education learned enrollment had increased this year by 94 this year.
Superintendent Dr. Robert Waters told board members that as of Sept. 5 enrollment was 3,210, up 3 percent from last year’s 3,116.
Waters said that despite possible troop cuts at Fort Stewart, he expects growth to continue because of lower property prices and taxes, compared to other counties.
He also said it appears much of the county’s military growth is coming from the higher ranks and personnel preparing to retire.
“We may lose some numbers, but we’re still going to see a net gain from the military, when all is said and done,” Waters said.
The superintendent said enrollment was 2,070 in 2004 and that projections estimate it could hit 4,036 by 2019. To accommodate this growth, he said the board has begun steps to build a new school.
So during the meeting the board approved started applications for state money for fiscal year 2016. Waters said voters still have to approve increasing the millage rate by 1.6 for local funds for the school, the application needed to be submitted now.
“We have to plan now, for the future, to build the school,” he said.
In July, the board put the proposed millage increase on the Nov. 4 ballot. According to Waters, the increase will generate approximately $6.1 million and qualify the county for $25.7 million from the state.
In addition to the school, a bus barn and a maintenance building will also be included in the project.
Waters said he hoped the millage rate could be cut in the future as growth continues.
Waters also said a Sept. 14 article from the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute reported Long was one of the few counties in the state with increased consumer spending in 2014.
“Long County is growing in numbers, but also in businesses. We just had a barbecue place open. There is a grand opening for a candy store on Thursday, and it looks like a McDonalds is coming. As we get more businesses, our revenue will increase and, hopefully, that will result in dropping the millage rate back if it is passed,” he said.
Also the BoE presented a plaque to its system-wide teacher of the year, Terry Kenny. Waters said that Kenny is the middle- and high- school band director and has taught for 44 years.
“I can’t say enough positive things about Mr. Kenny,” Waters said.